It has been 40 years since graduation from Lowell High. I haven't attended any of the previous reunions, and wasn't going to this one. I assumed people went to reunions to relive memories of when they were popular. I wasn't interested in conversations about what I did, who I knew or what I had. In a class of 900, I was lost in the crowd. Still, something kept pulling me to attend.
I recognized a few names on the guest list. There was a Facebook page for the event and many posted their high school experience of being invisible and feared that no one would recognize them now. The authenticity of the posts was reassuring. It was as if one could finally voice what could not be voiced 40 years ago.
Upon arriving, I immediately saw a familiar face, and he shared how his liver transplant has affected his perspective on life. Another told me how he was hit hard during the crash in 2008 and had to start all over again. Conversations throughout the night were about family, health and what we know now that we didn't in youth. I was struck how much this reunion was about journey and resilience. It was a celebration of the wisdom of our years and perseverance, and how we survived the non-linear trajectories of our lives. It was inspiring how we have all made it here. The status lines and stratifications that so oppressed us in high school seemed less emotionally loaded. Many were interested in just connecting, like when you encounter a stranger while traveling and discover you are from the same town or neighborhood, there is a kinship.
The reunion was healing. The frozen memories of struggles I had during high school are now linked with a more positive narrative that only the insight of maturity can balance. I like this chapter of life’s story better and left feeling a bit lighter.
With a Perspective, I'm Larry Jin Lee